10 – 12

Make a geodesic dome or sphere


Make a geodesic dome or sphere

What to do with this activity?

A geodesic sphere or dome is a lightweight but very strong round structure made from interconnecting triangles. If the round structure is complete it's a geodesic sphere, like in the photo above. You might have seen a geodesic dome (half sphere) in a playground. They make interesting climbing frames. 

You can make a colourful geodesic dome or sphere using drinking straws (strong paper ones) and pipe cleaners. Here are instructions from Babbledabbledo.

There's a bit of maths involved in this. For instance, there are two lengths of straw that make up the triangles and you need to work out  the relative lengths using a formula and calculator. With the longer pieces you form pentagons (five sided shapes), while the shorter straws make the triangles inside the pentagons. 

If you are interested, have a look at this online calculator tool that helps you calculate the correct two lengths for the struts depending on the size you want the dome to end up. 

Here's an alternative way to make a geodesic dome using rolled up newspaper - these instructions from PBS. And here's a video of one being made by a group of kids in Boston Science Museum.





  • Why am I doing this?

    Maths makes sense to children when they use it in everyday life - like measuring things, working out distances, estimating food for dinner or money for groceries. The more opportunities you give your child to use the maths they learn at school through everyday activities the more they will understand and enjoy working with numbers.

  • How can I do more?

    Always teach numbers in a natural way through everyday activities and play. Count steps on a stairs, food in your shopping trolley or cows in a field.  Compare things when talking big or small, long or short, older or younger and faster or slower: “You carry the small box and I’ll take the big one.” Use the words – up and down, over and under, near or far, more or less when talking to your child. Talk about the shapes of everyday things. Ask your child what shapes they can see around the room they’re in.

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